tv Dateline NBC NBC September 4, 2011 7:00pm-8:15pm EDT
rnbc-universal television v t r p detectives don't often get wrappedwrapped up in their work in this case how could he not? a beautiful young woman missing and the suspects two brothers, whose silence was proof, blood was thicker than water. >> we had these two guys right in our sights, but we had nowhere to go. >> what was so odd? what kept pushing him on were the strange links to his own life. >> the minute they said that the hair on my neck stood up. >> he needed to solve the mystery, not just for her but himself. could he get brother to betray brother? >> they both knew. if i could figure out what their
conversation was about, i could find bethany. >> solving the mystery at bootleggers cove. thank you for joining us. i'm chris hansen. when a young woman disappeared in alaska, police were stumped. there were few i clues, and the suspects were the two with brothers who just weren't talking except to each other 0. they were so close, could anyone breach that kind of loyalty, convince one brother to betray another? the detective investigating the mismos. disappearance knew it wouldn't be easy but he haven't a choice. he had a promise to keep. here's keith morrison. >> i would tuck him in to bed and he would ask did you find bethany and i said, no buddy, i didn't find her today, but i'm going to find her. >> reporter: little boys have a way of believing their fathers can do anything. of course, glen klinkhart's little boy had no idea how or why his question, the question
would come to torment his father. so, the beginning of the whole strange business didn't seem so important that first night. may 4th, 2003 -- >> it was sunday evening, sitting at home with the family and get the phone call and my sergeant basically says we have a missing girl down in bootleggers cove an i'm like okay. >> like any other missing persons report and there are god knows lots of those in anchorage, alaska. >> i told my wife i will be probably right back. she's probably just out with her friends. >> reporter: klinkhart is a police detective, experience taught him most often people that are miss having chosen to disappear. how could he know driving through town to check on this missing woman she was about to tear open an old 0 wound, never fully healed even after 22 years. >> there was something i can't make amends for, i can't fix,
and yet along comes bethany. >> bethany. >> bethany correira, that was her name, the missing woman. 21 years old, bright, fun loving, all alaskan. >> bethany, look. [ laughter ] >> they raise them tough here in the heart of alaska. they have tochlt winter are cold, long and dark. most survive on what they hunt or fish. >> when we first got here electricity and water was not a popular thing. so you were hauling water and chopping wood in kerosene lamps. >> they moved from massachusetts in the '70s. they are among just 700 who live here. the town bursts with cruisers and climbers in the summer months. there is one sdoont in life here, mt. mckinley, the tallest peak in north america. the correira raised two sons and
two daughters in a log house billy built with his own hands and there by the pond linda home schooled them all. let them know they could do anything. >> i don't think i realized until i moved away from here that people are like, you can't do that. that's a guy's job. you learn to do a lot on your own. >> her bigger sister bethany was a pistol. her father billy remembers a story about that. he was showing his son james how a mouse trap works by sticking his fingers in one. didn't realize that bethany was watching around the corner. >> bethany came around the corner, i will, i will. and she sticks in her finger in there and it snaps her fingers and he goes does it hurt and she goes -- no. >> you all like that you stick your fingers in to things.
>> not like that. >> bethany grew up fishing, kayaking, mountain climbing and playing soccer and hockey. on the boys' teams. >> it is tough sometimes being a mom when you see her playing hockey with the boys. >> was she a tomboy. >> oh, yeah. >> the joke in alaska is the men are men and the women will too. but rugged self sufficiency is a good thing t people respected bethany. and then came that day, the day so moment ouls in the life of every parent and child when it was time in her case to leave this cloistered paradise in mt. mckinley and go to college in anchorage and then what happened four days later? well, as you will see, what happened four days later shook the earth around here. in the spring of 2003, bethany rented an apartment on m street in bootleggers cove, a
neighborhood on the water in downtown anchorage. >> nice place. >> she had arranged her college classes. she was preparing to study medicine. she landed a part-time job cleaning apartments in the complex where she lived and thus the stage was set for all the days to follow. it was four days after she moved in, a saturday, bethany failed to pick up her brother from the anchorage airport even though she promised to be there. >> that was odd. something unlike bethany not to show show up. linda told him don't worry, she and bethany had made a plan to meet the next morning and shop for furniture. sunday, linda drove to anchorage. she knocked on bethany's door. no answer. >> the door was left unlocked, which surprised me. her bike was in the room and i thought she must be jogging. we waited around for a while and i started to get a little nervous. >> she tried to stay daum, went to the garage sale she and
bethany had planned to visit. couldn't focus. went back to the apartment, still no bethany. >> i finally went to the police. and they told me that the person probably just left and i thought this is not like my daughter. >> she said you need to come to anchorage, bethany is missing and i'm in shock. what to you mean? >> detective klinkhart at bethany's apartment on sunday evening. he did not tell bethany he was a member of the homicide unit. klinkhart went inside. >> her bed hadn't been made. there was a book that was turned over. her purse is still hanging in the closet. her cell phone is sitting on the counter. >> kids don't leave their cell phones. >> no. . no everything told me this was an apartment she had been in and she just stepped out and she had every intention of coming right back.
>> but here, outside, was something truly odd. the building next door had been destroyed in a fire that very morning. ruled an accident, an electrical fire, but still -- >> when i smelled that smell it makes me suspicious, simply because of my history. that's a smell you never ever forget. >> because of my history did he say? yes, he did. the smell and the look of the burning opened the old wound, the awful memory flooded his brain. that fire years ago that destroyed a part of him, his sister so like bethany and where was he then for her? he shook it off, went to double check the cause of the fire and got experts in to take a look. >> i said what do 0 you think and they looked at me and said this is an arson. the minute they said that the hair on the back of my neck just stood up. >> arson? klinkhart knew painfully well from personal experience that people trying to destroy
evidence quite often burn things down but there is no evidence at all of bethany. >> we had a burned out building, we haven't forensics. i had her apartment and no forensics. i had nothing. >> and then for some reason, maybe the fresh turmoil over the old memory. he went to bethany's parents and made a promise. he told them he would find her. >> rash perhaps. >> since already he sensed the chances of finding her alive slim. >> they said we are going to give you our daughter, please find her. >> reporter: the search leads to two brothers with a secret. >> they both knew. if i could figure out what that conversation was about i could find bethany. >> when mystery at bool legers cove continues. ncer ] glade plugins refills fit more holders... ♪ ♪ ...so you're free ur home with the fragrance you love. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ get the refills
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was far away doing mission work when her mother called, bethany missing, couldn't be. >> i thought i will wait it out and she will show up in a couple of weeks. >> when she returned and bethany was missing it made her angry if anyone suggested her sister may not come back at all. >> i thought she had so much potential and life left and so much to offer to others. can't be over yet. >> back at anchorage, it is as if the whole city had decided the same thing. they came in the hundreds from the city, from talkeetna, especially, to search for bethany. >> don't leave any stones unturned. >> detective klinkhart in his particular way was looking, too. first, he had to eliminate those closest to bethany, her boyfriend and her family. they were all quickly ruled out as suspects. but what about that fire next door? was bethany's disappearance connected somehow? of course it was.
what happened in his 0 own life screamed it had to be connected. the burned building, it turned out was part of the same complex has bethany and hadn't bethany just been hired to clean and show apartments. >> now we have all kinds of potential suspects. >> maybe the landlord and bethany's new boss could help. bethany had told the boyfriend the man, his name mike lawson, had called her shortly before she disappeared to set up a training lesson. >>. >> he was cool and calm. he indicated that yes he had talked to bethany. that he called her. it was about 8:00 saturday morning. >> lawson told klinkhart he had simply returned bethany's call but said he had not arranged to teach bethany how to show apartments that day or any other. >> not at all.
>> in fact, lawson told klinkhart -- >> she didn't show up, i do. it was about keys and she said she got them fixed. >> lawson's brother bob lived there too. >> his brother very quiet gentleman but at one point i'm talking to mike and bob interrupted and starts to say where he was. >> now that was curious. the lawson brothers told detective klinkhart they hadn't seen bethany the day she disappeared but their manner seemed strange. they had alibis saying they spent all day at home together watching nascar on television and went out that night drinking with friends and that was that. and yet klinkhart's antenna was picking up something. he pressed mike lawson for more. >> i wanted to know what he thought of her, not just what he saw. i'll never forget.
he said nice girl, very nice girl. >> mike told klinkhart he was a father himself. had two grown children. so imagine what klinkhart thought a few days later when one of mike's co-workers, a man named franco, told klinkhart he was disturbed by the way that mike talked about bethany in the days after her disappearance. in his words he said that [ bleep ] is given me so many problems and i couldn't belief he would say something like that about someone that disappeared. >> on top of that mike's wife left him and he had been talk tg about openly taking it out on other women. >> he met a woman at a bar and called her a bar whore and took all of his frustration and madness out on her. i said what do you mean by that and his response was basic ly i
did her at the same time i was beating her. >> it was in fact because franco found his behavior so strange he called klinkhart who showed up at their job site with more questions. and while he was there klinkhart peered through the windows in to the dirty, messy interior of his car for any sign that bethany had been inside. he needed a search warrant to do anymore than that. so klinkhart left to get one. and what did mike do then? >> he was walking around his car, searching his own vehicle, just like they did. >> franco mike said he needed a couple of days off to find a lawyer and take care of things. when he returned. >> it was pouring down rain. he pulled up on the job, which is all muddy, dirty and it was completely detailed, spotless. >> his car it looked brand new. >> it had been scrubbed. >> anything that would have been there was gone. >> completely gone. i got nothing out of that car. >> now that was certainly suspicious.
remember, mike said he was home watching television the day bethany disappeared. but was he? klinkhart looked up lawson's cell phone records that showed him about the time bethany is believed to have disappeared there was a flurry of calls from mike lawson's cell phone. >> these calls were made from a cell phone to his own house. >> the house he said he was in all day. >> the house he said he was in all day. >> it seemed mike was desperately trying to reach his brother bob at their house across town and where was mike when he made those calls? detective klinkhart checked cell phone tower records and found. >> his phone was on m street making a flurry of calls back to the house. >> m street, where bethany's apartment is. >> there's a two-minute conversation between mike lawson's cell phone and his brother's cell phone in south anchorage and that two-minute conversation was the one thing that i had that told me that
there was something going on and these brothers both knew. if i could figure out what that conversation was about, i could find bethany. >> the cell tower records told klinkhart that mike lawson's cell phone went back to the lawson's home for a while and traveled 45 miles north and dropped off the radar for three hours. >> where did he go? where can you go? this is alaska. you drive two hours out and two hours back, you have covered a lot of ground. >> klinkhart's gut told him wherever it was that mike had gone, bob would have gone, too. but it also told him that neither brother would tell on the other. if no one talked, how would he ever find bethany. >> it became pretty clear by the fall that here we had these two guys in our sights but we had nowhere to go. >> coming up, signs of a crack in the lawson brother's wall of silence. >> i'm not going to jail for anybody.
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moving across the country has been great for me. i don't know if i could say the same for my parents. it's the worst thing that's ever happened to them. i'm just pretty much killing it out here. they say they're happy. i mean, what do you think they do every day without me there? ♪ ♪ are they eating? they must really miss me. i'm their only child except for my sister. [ male announcer ] venza from toyota.
hit me. it is like i woke up at 6:00 in the morning and couldn't sleep anymore. was cleaning the bathroom down stairs and it just broke in to tears. i just knew she wasn't coming back. >> detective klinkhart meanwhile was stuck, nine months and still no sign of bethany. >> i don't have a homicide. i don't have a body. i don't have a crime scene. >> but he couldn't just walk away. twhaunt wasn't that how he failed his sister years before. isn't that why the guilt nagged him so. his investigation kept coming back to the lawson brothers. he knew that mike and bob were exceptionally close. so much they endured an affair between bob and mike's third wife. when bethany disappeared, mike and bob lived together and owned a house together. >> mike was the talker. but he wasn't a get your hands dirty, get in the trenches and work hard. that was bob.
bob was the guy that could get stuff done. the ying and yang. >> he was certain they knew something about bethany's disappearance but mike quit talking to police all together. so klinkhart got bob alone and asked him questions on videotape. >> do you believe that your brother is involved in the arson and disappearance of bethany correira. >> in my heart i don't think that mike is involved. >> klinkhart felt sure that he was lying. he continued to press bob for more. >> we want to make sure i you wouldn't get evolved in this even if your brother. >> no way. if my brother came home and told me he did something like that i'd tell ya. i'm not going to jail for anyone. i will tell you that flat out. >> bob said he knew nothing about bethany's disappearance. how could he pry the two with brothers apart?
and then a useful discovery. mike had a criminal record. in fact the brothers had lied about when they applied for a business own. klinkhart told the fbi which was only too happy to file federal fraud charges. both were arrested and faced time in jail. would that encourage bob to talk? >> i have a missing girl and i need bob to start to think that i'm serious. if he won't do the right thing, maybe i can make him do the right thing. let's arrest him and put him in jail, which is exactly what we did. >> bob had a choice. tell what he knew about bethany's disappearance and go free, or remain in jail on those federal charges. his attorney cindy billingsly came to negotiate a deal and could see the toll it had taken on him. >> he had aged by several years. he was a different man. >> whatever this was weighed heavily on him. >> he said that. it was killing him to do this,
to cover up for his brother. >> that's when bob finally cracked and told detective klinkhart he received a panicked phone call from his brother the morning bethany disappeared nine months earlier. >> he said i'm in trouble. and i said what the hell or whatever and he said i shot somebody. >> coming up, breaking the news, but not all of it to bethany's family. >> they asked me how do you know and i just said, i can't tell you. >> when mystery at bootleggers cove continues. cove continues. " continues.
there's a stubborn streak that runs through the best and worst who make alaska home. for nine months the correira family waited patiently for police to find bethany, and for nine, long months, bob lawson denied he knew anything about the disappearance of bethany correira until this -- and he said he woke you up. >> remember, bob had made a deal. tell detective klinkhart about the two-minute phone call from mike the morning he disappeared or join his brother mike in prison on those fraud i charges and so finally bob started talking. >> he said i need you to help me. >> klinkhart press ed for
details and he said that mike asked him to come to the duplex and bring plastic and duck tape. bob said he knew then that whoever mike shot was dead, and refused to help him. >> over and over how the hell, what the hell. i can't believe it. i think at some point he wound up saying, i'll just take care of it. >> bob said mike didn't go in to detail, just said there was a struggle and the gun went off. >> i remember drilling him over and over like what the hell is wrong with you, i can't believe this. >> what was his answer? >> he hated women. he was missed at women. >> now he asked a question that would cut through his defenses. mike said he left a body in the woods. >> left out there undressed. >> yes. >> he put some weeds on her.
>> and left her out there. >> yeah. >> bob, were you there? >> no. >> remember, klinkhart believed, based on cell phone records the two men were together that day. and so he tried to tap in to bob's conscience. >> i'm going to be talking to the family and i'd like to be able to help them. >> and that's when bob finally revealed he'd done much more than just talk to his brother that day. >> i was there. >> okay. >> that's okay. >> bob agreed to come back in a few days. detective klinkhart knew that bob struggled with drugs, alcohol and depression and revealing his brother's secret would torment him. >> to know you will be okay tonight. >> and five days later bob was back at the police station, ready to tell his whole story.
>> someday when i'm eulogized, i want somebody to say i tried to do the right thing. i always tried to do the right thing. >> he said that awful day began with mike's call for help and when bob arrived at the duplex, mike appeared to be high on ceo cocaine. in the bedroom, slumped against the wall, bob saw a girl. >> bob, is in the girl whose body was in the bedroom that day? >> yes. >> i'm sorry. >> no. no. >> it is the first nafgs i truly now know from somebody's mouth, from bob, from somebody who was there that bethany is dead. >> what did your brother say to that? >> nothing. >> he didn't say anything. >> he said well, at some point it's not your fault.
he said i did it. and he said i'm sorry i got you in to this. >> bob said there was a broken shell necklace on the floor. he and mike rolled it up in plastic i long with bethany's body and put her in the back of mike's suv. bob cleaned up the scene, patched a hole in the wall where it looked like bethany's head hit it and they drove 360 miles north where mike knew of a good place to hide a body. by the time they passed talkeetna bob is getting nervous. >> every minute we go with her in there there is a chance of any fluke that could happen, flat tire, somebody hits you. i'm just thinking let's just get rid of her somewhere. >> so they pulled off at mile post 129 and dumped her body in the woods near a gravel pit and they returned to the duplex at night and -- >> mike said we have to have a plan.
>> bob told klinkhart mike drove and bob lit the fire and then they met up with friends and started drinking. bob seemed to relieved to finally shared his secret. >> do 0 you think you made the right decision? >> yeah. it still hurts. i kind of feel like a rat. why? maybe because it is my brother. >> so it was. brothers with a bond so strong that bob had once been forgiven for having an affair with bob's third wife. he got on the phone with billy and linda correira. >> he said i think you need to stop by and talk to us and i said what is it? i knew right away. it was really hard. there is always a hope in a mom that there could be some kind of mistake. >> of all of the times i have had to tell people their loved one is dead and not coming back it was probably the hardest on me. >> why that one? >> i got to know this family and
i watched that hope. i watched them have that hope and faith that she was going to come home and that i was going to bring her home and it was going to be okay. because she was a fighter, a tough girl. she was going to make it and i had to tell them that hope was no more. >> harder still because with the investigation still open and bethany out there somewhere, the correiras couldn't even tell their closest friends their daughter was dead and detective klinkhart couldn't tell them everything he knew either. >> they asked me how do you know and i just said i can't tell you. >> part of bob's deal was to show investigators exactly where he and mike put bethany's body and to be fair he did try but -- >> it's february. this is mile 129 of the wilderness of alaska. there's six feet of snow at this area. >> so now they needed to wait until spring, and billy, deeply religious struggled with rage against the man who had done this thing. >> i just wanted to just cut
this guy up like i would a train kill moosse and i have done enough of those. >> but this wasn't over, even though detective klinkhart believed the story he didn't have hard evidence to back it up. bob would have to work harder to give up his brother. but of course, as everybody knows, a brother's betrayals don't tend to end well. coming up, the story of another death and why bethany's murder so haunted a young detective. >> the day you found her wasn't just the first anniversary of her death. it was another anniversary, too. >> may 3rd, my sister's birthday. >> when mystery at bootleggers cove continues. eat. i love hanging out with my friends. i have a great fit with my dentures. i love kiwis. i've always had that issue with the seeds getting under my denture. super poligrip free -- it creates a seal of the dentures in my mouth. even well-fitting dentures let in food particles. with just
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we didn't know where she was, what happened? why or how she was gone. that was something that chewed on me for a year. >> a year had passed since bethany correira was murdered here in anchorage, alaska. >> it is one thing what he did to my daughter, but what it is doing to affect the rest of my children was something that was with ongoing. >> because detective klinkhart's evidence against mike lawson was not complete and because he couldn't find bethany's body, their family and their grief could only guess. may 1st, 2004 was unusually hot here in alaska and bethany's parents preoccupied by their year of troubles were talked by their friends in to a raft and drifted down the river dodging
ice floes, feeling like kids for a while. life seemed almost good. and then two days later there was news. the date was may 3rd, an anniversary. it was a year to the day since bethany disappeared. spring had arrived. the snow had all but melted away and that day detective i have klinkhart set out for the gravel pit that bob lawson said they would find her. >> i could see the snow it was undisturbed. nobody else had been there and i'm thinking, my god, this is it. bob was telling the truth. this is it. we are almost there. >> at first nothing, and then a flash of blue, a fleece jacket and -- >> i find some shells. >> the necklace. >> there's only one person who i'm looking for that has the shells. >> hawaiian shells from a necklace bethany was given three days before she disappeared. here in the middle of the
alaskan woods. there were bones and clumps of hair. a year of exposure to weather and wild animals left little of bethany to find and then klinkhart got in his car and went to see bethany's parents. >> i find it a miracle that a year to the day they found bethany. >> for a year now detective klinkhart's 5-year-old son had been asking about bethany, too. asking the way a boy asks who thinks his father can do anything. he drove to his son's school playground and told him he found bethany in the woods. >> and then he said, where is she and i said, well, i took her home to her mom and dad and he looked at me and smiled and he said, good job, dad. that's all he needed. he just needed to know i found her and brought her home to her mom and dad. >> a lot more in that for you. >> oh, yeah. that day you found her wasn't just the anniversary of her death. it was another anniversary, too.
>> may 3rd, my sister's birthday. >> his sister dawn. it was 1981, glenn had gone with his family to the kenai peninsula for easter. dawn was grand permission to stay home alone. she didn't tell her parents she planned to party. glenn was 15 at the time. he could have said something, but he didn't. >> i knew my sister was going to have a party. i was always the one to make sure everybody got home okay. >> grown up for your big sister. >> i wasn't there. >> it was easter morning when the call came in to where she was. >> there was a fire at the house and i later learned on the radio that my sister was murdered and was dead. and. >> you heard this on the radio. >> on the radio. >> it was one of the party goers.
he returned after the others left. he sexually assaulted dawn and tortured her and set her and the house on fire. he was arrested a few days later. >> i spent a lot of time wondering, what if i had been there. could i have stopped him? would he have even come back if he knew i was there. for a long time i put that away. i put it in a box. i put her away. i put may 3rd away and went on with my life. >> and so now, solving bethany's murder had become far more than just any other case. if klinkhart could bring bethany's killer to justice maybe he would fix what was broken in him. in in spite of bob lawson's statements and having found bethany's remains, detective klinkhart didn't have enough evidence to charge his brother mike with murder. he needed more. and knew he could only get it with bob's help. so he tried to convince bob. said he had to do it to save
himself. why? because in the end, said klinkhart, mike would point the finger at bob and say he killed bethany. >> i told bob, i said you know you may not believe me right now but i will tell you i right now when this comes down you know who he will blame and he looked at me and he said no. and i said he's going to blame you and you could see the wheels were turning. he didn't want to believe that. >> that's when bob agreed to cooperate fully and help police gather the physical evidence they needed to charge mike in bethany's murder. >> i got to tell you it is hard. the hardest thing i ever done in my life. . >> it turns out one of the last things he would do in life. >> i just thought it is all going to come apart. game over. >> what would happen to the case now without its star witness when mystery at bootleggers cove continues.
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blood is thicker than water. mike had forgiven his brother for sleeping with his wife but bob had returned the favor, helping mike dump the body of a young woman and covering up the crime. bob had guarded their secret for nine long months before turning on his brother. a decision made even more difficult because he knew mike was unstable and had attempted suicide. >> i will be honest with you, i said, mike, if you are going to do it,ly do it too. if you go i will go. >> in his suicide note, mike told bob he was "the best a brother one could want and he wrote to glenn klinkhart the detective i have who had been
after him from the start. i did nothing wrong. now find the real person who had something to do with bethany. to use my brother to get to me is about as low as one could go. was it? by the time detective i have klinkhart went to see mike in jail some months later, bob had decided love for brother had its limits and had given police enough evidence for an arrest. >> i got some bad news for you. you are being charged. let me be specific so you know. >> what's this about? >> about bet bethany. >> it was an admission and an apparent effort to minimize what
he had done to bethany correira. >> back at home in their shared house, bob, the brother who turned on mike, behaved as if a weight had been lifted. his attorney cindy billingsly. >> seemed relieved, focused, happy to be talking to a counselor. happy to be back with his friends, having is a somewhat normal life. >> he wrote an apology. it was printed in the newspaper. he asked if he could meet bethany's family in person. >> i wish i would have met with him because i think we would have told him we forgive him and it would have been easier on him. >> she wishes they met him. the trial was coming an bob would be the key witness against his brother. >> somebody has to tell the story.
if that has to be me, i will. >> okay. >> as the trial drew closer, bob began to broad about his betrayal and about what he'd help his brother do. >> bob was a man who had done a very bad thing for his brother, and that tortured him. the last 20 years it was them together inseparable brothers. he had basically turned his brother for his own salvation. those two things just bothered him. >> bothered him more than anyone knew until the day detective klinkhart called bob's attorney with stunning news. >> he said he killed himself. which he apologized to his family and then wrote, "klinkhart, i'm gotnot going to testify against my brother" the
legal rule is crystal clear. all that devastating material detective klinkhart had recorded with bob on videotape had suddenly become inadmissible in court. >> is in the girl whose body was in the bedroom that day? >> yes. >> why? if bob couldn't be cross-examined the videotape could not be played for the jury at all. so now the question, without bob to tell his story, did they have a case at all? >> i just thought, it's all going to come apart. game over. >> there was one crucial piece of evidence bob left behind, something that was more important than ever. coming up, witness for the prosecution, a dead man talking. >> when mystery at bootleggers cove continues. [ male announcer ] what part of the chicken is "nugget?" we're kfc. our cooks don't make nuggets. they make popcorn chicken. real, 100% off-the-bone premium breast meat. so how does it compare
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>> i really have hope that justice will be done. you know, i pray that i can handle it if it is not. >> linda correira had been waiting for a long time for justice as the system ground slowly to trial. more than four years passed since bethany went missing. mike lawson, bethany's landlord had been charged with kidnapping, murder, arson and tampering with evidence but the key witness against him, his brother bob is dead and detective klinkhart's prediction that mike would turn on bob now seemed to be coming true. >> my client said he didn't do the murder, didn't know who did it. bob lawson did it. >> could mike go to trial with the claim and if he did could the prosecution counter it? without bob to testify, the case against mike was much weaker. it was up to prosecutor sharon marshall to make the best possible case with what she had left. >> bethany correira got exactly
four days in that apartment because on may 3rd, 2003, michael lawson, the manager of those apartments murdered bethany correira. >> detective klinkhart second at the prosecution table ready to help the prosecutor tell the version of what happened that saturday morning, but mike lawson lured bethany to a vacant apartment praps perhaps to sexually assault her and shot her as she tried to escape and dumped her body miles away with his brother's help and burned down the building where he killed her. bethany's boyfriend testified about his last conversation with her the morning she disappeared. >> she said that michael had called while she was asleep to arrange some work plans. >> there was some direct physical evidence of the way bethany died. a criminalologist testified she was shot at close range less than a foot.
as for that fire that started soon after, remember bob said he lit the fire the night of bethany's murder and was baffled it wasn't reported until shortly before 7:00 the next morning lance hart testified that he thinks the tire that bob set smoldered out and someone came back and lit another fire, not long before i was reported. a newspaper delivery person was passing by the building at 6:47 a.m. just as the fire blow out one of the windows. >> the house is on fire. >> okay. >> smoke is billowing out the windows. just started. >> she said she saw a man in a white suv driving slowly by. >> short hair, sunglasses is what i noticed. >> why did you notice that? >> because it was still kind of dark out, dawn like and i thought it was kind of early for sunglasses. >> mike owned a white suv, and both mike and bob had short,
dark hair but bob, now dead, could not explain a thing. could the prosecution win the case without him? well, in fact, the prosecution though badly damaged by bob's suicide and the inadmissibility of the taped interview with detective klinkhart still had and was about to use one remarkable piece of evidence which would show that in a way bob was still alive, could speak from the grave. >> would you be willing to talk to your brother and if so would you be willing to let us tape record that conversation? >> sure. >> two years before bob's death, klinkhart had persuaded bob to allow him to secretly record a telephone conversation between the two brothers. [ phone ringing ] >> and unlike bob's allegations in the videotaped interview, this was admissible because the jury was about to hear mike himself talk about what he did. >> i want to be able to tell you i love you, mike. >> i love you too, bob.
>> before the call took place klinkhart gave him tip house to draw out the most useful information against mike. now the recorded conversation was only thing left of the prosecution's star witness. >> it is eating me up, mike. i have been drinking every night. i go to the bar. i have two shots of crown to every beer. >> the recorded conversation took place nearly a year after bethany disappeared. by then, mike knew his brother had spoken with police and was clearly suspicious. >> they didn't just go away. this whole thing ain't going away, mike. i just need to talk to ya. i don't know how we can talk about this. >> i don't want to talk unless i could talk to you stark-ass snaked in a room. >> i don't know how that would happen. what do you want me to do? what am i supposed to do? >> whatever you have to do, bob. >> mike seen here seems agitated that mike pressed him to talk about it.
>> you did it. you are the star witness. you are their pupil. you sunk me. you showed where the cat buried the kitty litter. you showed everything. you're their star pupil. >> the prosecutor explained when mike said you told them what the cat dur buried in the kitty litter he was referring to her being buried in the gravel pit and he gave him an out calling it an accident. people are more likely toed a mits to a lesser offense and bob did as he was instructed. >> if something happened there and there was an accident and that thing happened. that's a whole different story. that may not be a life deal, mike. if that is what happened
>> bob continued to press and though reluctant mike shared enough information to implicate himself in bethany's death. >> prosecutor marshall explained in the drug world coca-cola is often code for cocaine. mike told bob he feared he would get the death penalty if bethany was shot while he was in possession of illegal drugs .
>> the final betrayal. the ultimate oath on bob's road to suicide. bob was the recording. bob's only legacy enough to convict? remember, before the trial, mike's attorney tried to pin the murder on bob, but now mike had a new attorney and a new strategy. >> what happened is exactly what mike lawson spoke about in his repeated admissions. >> in other words, it was an accident, said defense attorney. mike lawson had been cutting cocaine in an empty apartment when bethany walked in. he said he was startled and accidentally shot her and the prosecution had no evidence to prove otherwise. >> the physical evidence has not panned out for you to develop a theory of exactly what happened. >> that's correct. >> but could it have been an accident? in her rebuttal marshall said
that he asked bethany to meet her that morning for job theory. she couldn't develop the theory for sexual assault because she haven't enough evidence and she had to keep secret something she knew of mike's past but she did remind that his brother arrived at the scene and found bethany naked. >> when he comes in she's naked. she's alive according to michael lawson because he took her clothes off so she wouldn't run. all of this time you have her sitting there without her clothes on, alive with a bullet in her chest? while you call your brother. this is an accident? >> by the time bob arrived, she said, bethany was dead. and the only person who knows for certain what happened inside of that apartment before he arrived was mike lawson, and he wasn't talking. so what was it? if mike lawson intentionally killed bethany as the prosecution contended it was
first-degree murder, but if it was an accident, as the defense claimed, it could be manslaughter. >> it's what happened, under what circumstances, why? and that's something that the state's case is not offered you other than to make slooep leaps of faith that the evidence does not support. >> the prosecutor looked grim. >> and just think how am i going to face this family if this jury comes back and says not guilty. surprise for the jury. >> when we stood up to walk the deliberations, i had tears in my eyes. i was so angry. >> when mystery at bootleggers cove continues. ollege, i moved back in with my parents. i was worried about them, you know? i mean, for instance my mom went to bed tonight before making my dinner which is fine. i mean, i know how to make dinner. it just starts to make you wonder. is this what happens when you age? my friends used to say i was the lucky one. i had the fun parents. where's the fun now? night, guys.
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that's okay. >> finally, after four days, they had a verdict. >> we, the jury find the defendant michael lawson guilty of murder in the second degree. >> second-degree murder. they found him guilty, all right but on some of the lesser charges, not first-degree murder, not kidnapping, not arson. many of the jurors watched lawson's reaction as the verdict was read. >> when first-degree murder was not part of the equation, i seen a sigh of relief on him. >> he smiled. >> i wanted to get off the chair and smack him. >> i thought we let the family down. we did. >> and then a surprise. the jurors were with not finished. >> we are going to ask your forbearance for one more task. >> there would be a mini trial to address one more count, being a felon in possession of a gun. the jury wasn't allowed to know anything about mike lawson's previous convictions until now.
>> there's a reason for that. they have to convict him on the evidence we have. >> now prosecutor marshall could finally reveal her secret to the jury and dropped a bombshell. this atf agent on lawson's felony record. >> in this particular case, was the defendant found guilty. >> he was. >> what was he found guilty of. >> two counts of sexual assault. >> lawson had been convicted of rape 18 years before. it was for some members of the jury deeply troubling. now the idea that bethany may have been killed during a sexual assault seemed obvious in a way it hadn't before. when we stood up to walk out, the deliberations. i had tears in my eyes, i was so angry, very angry. i was very distraught about the fact that we didn't know, but i feel wouldn't have gotten a fair trial if he had known if we did.
>> this time it was just five minutes to a verdict, guilty. and the correiras were back in the courtroom six months later to find out what mike lawson's future would hold. >> mr. lawson, i sentence you i to 99 years. >> the maximum allowed for second-degree murder, which just happened to be the same as the maximum for first degree. and thus, the correiras, seemingly endless prospect of appeals finally finished. he's an unusual man. hiez billy correira. he long since decided to take seriously his deeply felt religious belief and says he has forgiven the man who killed his daughter. >> when i best began to look at mike lawson as just a human being who made some really bad choices in what thoughts he chose to entertain, then i was
able to look at him as not my enemy. >> are you fooling yourself? >> i've asked myself the same question. am i living in denial? how is it that i don't feel, you know pain from the loss of my daughter. >> you don't feel pain? >> i honestly don't. >> he'll never see her again or walk with her down the aisle or play with her children, and yet -- >> i just have a lot of good memories of my daughter. so all i can say is that god really does heal the broken hearted. >> perhaps so. detective klinkhart through bethany finally confronted his demons too. >> she was born in 1981 and my 1 and you can't help but think that sometimes things come around and you are i given another chance and if you are g do the best that you can?
i hope when you ask the correiras that it was good enough. >> but then we already knew the correiras. so we knew it was. >> we did find out what happened to her. people say well, how do you feel about that and i say i feel fortunate because people go years without ever knowing what happened to a missing child or an adult. >> there was a roll of film in the camera. klinkhart found it in bethany correira's camera that first awful day and on it were the last pictures of a girl taken, that was once so brave she stuck